Could HD DVD Make a Comeback? Pricing Now Close to DVD

HD-DVD vs. Blu-rayEven if plenty of news is out already assuming HD DVD is dead, other sources are pointing us to facts that show the battle isn’t over yet. After all, you can now get HD DVD players with 7 movies for $126 whereas Blu-ray’s alternatives are, at best, nearly three times as expensive with players starting in the $300′s.

Most all coverage, positive or negative, is relying on data from the NPD Group. Interesting, then, that the NPD Group had to issue a statement addressing how its numbers were being used:

“As you may have seen, there are attempts being made to portray NPD’s weekly sales tracking figures for next generation DVD as a trend. We want to remind you and make clear that it is not accurate to make long term assumptions based on one week of sales — a cautionary point that NPD has made as well.

The facts are that during the week that is being singled out, both Blu-ray disc players and software were being given away for free with the purchase of 1080p TVs. It is also important to note that the instant rebate promotions that had previously netted Toshiba’s players’ MSRPs to $199 and $249 had actually ended on Jan. 5th — causing an increase in HD DVD’s MSRP back to $299 and $399 during that same week. Since Toshiba’s retail price move on Jan. 13th to $149 / $199 — Toshiba is seeing very positive sales trends at retail. This reinforces the fact that price is a significant driver of sales.

Toshiba’s HD DVD players represent a significant value to the consumer and the marketing campaign that just began is proving effective.”

Also check out the following comment by Paul Ellis on this article:

“[Current Amazon pricing] is what is going to make things really interesting. With players down to $125 (not just online either), that is going to drive a lot of demand for the players. When I was in Sam’s club, they had one HD-DVD player and one Blu-ray player (excluding the PS3 which doesn’t even have or accept a remote control). The HD-DVD player was $128, the Blu-ray player was $374. Keep in mind that HD-DVD still has Warner until May, and most regular people (i.e. not us…) can’t name which studios put out discs in what format.

If HD-DVD can really push the adoption, some studios may have to switch back to at least being format neutral. With good name brand HDMI upscaling DVD players selling for ~$99, I think we’re going to see a lot of people spend $25-$30 more to get HD-DVD capabilities. Nevermind the fact that for $126 on Amazon.com you get the HD-DVD player PLUS SEVEN movies, that is just a really good deal.”

What do you think? Can HD DVD come back?

*Update* Gartner, another research group, has taken the opposite stance and claims HD DVD price cuts are “useless resistance.” It predicts Blu-ray will be the winner by the end of the year.

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  • allendale

    i think war still here, and sony will lose.

  • Paul Ellis

    I know who I’d like to see “win”, but I’m not sure who will lose. I do know that most people ignore the fact that the general public overwhelming are not buying Blu-ray standalone players. That has to be an issue for the “regular people” segment. After all, the marketing trick isn’t to get gamers to watch HD movies, it is to get my parents to watch them.

  • Fruition

    At this point, it’s a simple matter of which format is selling the most, not which standalone players are selling the most. Because in the end, the ones who determine which format wins are the movie studios, not the consumer.

  • Paul Ellis

    While you have a good point, I just don’t think the consumer entirely doesn’t matter in this. Just think what would happen if everyone keeps buying DVDs instead of Blu-ray because the discs are too expensive (currently BR disc production is heavily subsidized to be competitive), and there is a large install base of HD-DVD players being used as upscaling DVD players primarily. Now consider that the DVDs people are buying only average $12/disc, but they could sell the same movie in HD-DVD (whose production costs are very close to DVD already) for $20, and people would actually buy them. These are products that are hugely price sensitive. There aren’t any inexpensive Blu-ray players that are comparable in features (BD Live aka 2.0 profile) to HD-DVD players.

    If Blu-ray can’t get cheap enough (players and discs), people will not buy them in volume. Too be honest, disc sales right now are so abysmally low compared to DVD (tens of thousands vs 10s of millions) that any lead that one format has over the other in disc sales is insignificant. It will take a large number of players to facilitate the large number of disc sales, and very few standalone Blu-ray players have been sold. Nevermind the fact that somehow, less than half of PS3 owners know it does Blu-ray.

    I think it is still anyones game. That’s my $.02.

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    Toshiba’s HD DVD players represent a significant value to the consumer and the marketing campaign that just began is proving effective.